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At what point do I need a DBA for my Microsoft SQL Data Platform?

The challenge with Microsoft SQL Server is that it’s like Othello – minute to learn; life time to master.

Any IT generalist worth his salt can get Microsoft SQL Server working and everything will seem fine. It’s only further down the line that the problems become obtrusive to scalability and expensive to the business. And this tipping point always occurs when Microsoft SQL is critical to the business.

An example:

A small financial firm has in-built Applications based on .Net and common toolsets. They may a few developers and a few infrastructure guys making up the core of the IT team. They now may have over 100 databases within a couple of SQL boxes. Over the years databases and application processes build up, people change and thee point comes where there are a number of concerns and problems, these could include:

1. Backups taking exceedingly long and need a significant amount of tier 1 and tier 2 storage
2. Particular processes run in the background, however no one knows what they’re for, only that they’re impacting performance
3. Regulation Adherence and DR/Recovery – No one actually knows how to put the data platform back together if it fails
4. Scalability – new initiatives necessitate more MS SQL Infrastructure, increasing the complexity and exasperating all of the above

Infrastructure and Development are at odds – who takes ownership of the above? Where would the buck sit when things do collapse? Ultimately, the IT Director or CIO will be the person responsible.

So in the above scenario, when SQL Server was first installed, none of the above challenges were foreseen and addressed. Yes sure, in the first 6 months nothing would happen. But this is because you’re only just starting to touch the basics of Microsoft SQL. Eventually, if your business continues the way it is, you’ll be more dependent on this core technology.

The answer?

Firstly, installing the basic MS SQL Server should be done with its usage and future usage in mind. A formal Solution Design & Architecture engagement is required to ensure the platform is sized correctly for licence, infrastructure and supportability cost control.

Secondly, once implemented, a basic monitoring and maintenance programme should be implemented to ensure day to day administration of table spaces, log files, lock times, backup processes and performance is maintained. Of which, all should integrate nicely with your existing Change Control processes.

dsp can provide easy, low cost MS SQL Server Support, which includes monitoring and proactive resolution to support your development and/or infrastructure team – if you’re a mid to small environment like the above example. Larger environments, we can fully support as a formal managed service that will integrate into your existing operation.

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